Studio shots, no. 8: Olivia Mercer Batts.


Olivia Mercer Batts (1882-1978).


In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Dempsey Mercer, 61; wife Cherry, 58; daughters Mary M., 30, Hannah, 24, and Sarah Mercer, 22; granddaughters Olivia P., 18 and Addie S. Mercer, 16; and grandchildren Jesse, 10, Mamie, 8, and Nettie Barnes, 5. [Next door: white farmer E.S. Toney, 37, and family.]

On 10 February 1904, Livia Mercer, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Ella Barnes, married Willie Batts, 22, of Wilson, son of Tom and Mariah Batts. The ceremony took place at E.S. Toney’s home in the presence of Bud Batts, Wade Vick and Addie Batts. [Per her descendants, white farmer Joseph A. Farmer was the father of Olivia, and possibly, Addie Mercer. Their mother, Ella Mercer, married Wesley Barnes, son of Willis and Cherry Battle Barnes, on 4 June 1885 in Wilson County. Ella’s sister Mary Mag married Wesley Barnes’ brother Jesse Barnes on 3 April 1889; their children are in the Mercer household in 1900. (Ned Barnes was Wesley and Jesse’s brother.) Witnesses Bud and Addie Batts were Willie and Olivia’s brother and sister, respectively.]

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 628 Warren Street, farm laborer Willie Batts, 28, wife Olivia, 29, and children Ernest, 8, Claria, 5, Elizabeth, 3, and twins Jodie and Josephine, 6 months.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Willie Batts, 39, wife Olivia, 39, and children Ernest, 17, Clara, 16, Elizabeth, 13, Josephine, 10, William, 7, E. George, 5, and M. Mary, 1 1/2.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Will Batts, 50, wife Olivia, 50, and children Ernest, 25, William, 16, Georgiana, 14, Magdelene, 11, Rosa L., 10, and Henry, 8.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 518 Carroll Street, tobacco stemmer Olivia Batts, 61, and children Ernest, 36, farm laborer; Mary M., 21, and Rosa Lee, 20, household servants; and Henry, 16, “new worker.”

Olivia Mercer Batts died 5 September 1978 in Wilson. She is buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Photograph courtesy of


  1. I remember Ms. Batts on Carroll St. We live across the Street from her. She would tell us stories of Slavery.

  2. This is my grandmother. I have the same framed photograph in my living room. My mother, Josephine Batts Williams was Olivia’s daughter.

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